Tag Archives: tabletop

My Table, Friday May 29, 2009

A story in pictures, and a few words.



Acme Bread Company Baguette

fleur verte

From left: Harley Farms (Pescadero, California) “Monet:” goat cheese with a layer of Herbs de Provence and decorated with edible flowers, the infamous Fleur Verte: goat cheese coated with dried thyme, tarragon, and crushed pink peppercorns, and Fresco Italia’s Quattro Stagioni soft cow’s milk round with edible flower

txacolian close

Some readers might remember my adoration for txacolina, a mineral-rich white wine from the Basque region of Spain.  Urki’s Getariako Txakolina is a new discovery from Paul Marcus.  It is a beautiful experience.  The cork smelled of vanilla and flowers, and the txacolina was crisp and dry as expected, and citrus-y too, yet gentle (perhaps gentler than the Xarmant Txakolina), effervescent, but without any sour bite.  


The light bubbles as seen through William Yeoward’s Pearl goblet


Et fin!

All photographs taken with the Canon Powershot G10, an amazing camera I borrowed from I.  Highly recommended.  It makes everything and everyone look beautiful. 

New linen placemats and napkins with hummingbird pattern from my mother.  Towle “Old Lace” silver.  Mottahedeh plats with raised swan design.  Laguiole cheese knife.  Roses from my garden.


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Valentine’s Day

When I a little girl I LOVED Valentine’s Day; not because I dreamt of a knight-in-shining-armor or had a hope chest (neither of these are true), but because it is a totally mundane Hallmark holiday that my gifted and generous mother made magical by infusing it with the appropriate amount of paganism and Victorian tradition.  

Valentine’s Day morning meant a special breakfast.  It usually consisted of Swedish pancakes (my mother didn’t make any other kind) with powdered sugar and lingonberry jam.  There was always beautiful fresh fruit too, often strawberries and whipped cream (by hand, not something that comes out of a nozzle).  The table was specially set and varied from year to year.  Lace table cloths would have been removed from linen drawers the night before and ironed.  White and gold china was used.  Perhaps there was red silk underneath the antique lace one year.  Each place setting had a handmade Valentine (sometimes more than one if we had spent the preceding week crafting together).  And this was all usually around six AM, before we had to put on our uniforms (with a red sweater, or maybe a pink bow in my hair to denote the holiday) and go to school. 

With all the hullabaloo around Valentine’s day from the couples (he better get the right reservation!) and singles (damn all the coupled people!) I miss the good old days of sugary breakfasts and familial love.  It was romantic, just not in a sexy way.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day here are some gorgeous images of antique and vintage Valentines and some tips for making your own sugary breakfast. Enjoy!


While I wasn’t one for knight-in-shining-armor I did have a thing for a nice, big pink sash.  Love it! Source

valentine2The sailboat! The garlands of forget-me-nots!  Source




Unbelievable.  So gorgeous.  Really worth clicking on the link to see more details.  The ribbon alone! Source


The gesturing hand is so Victorian. And the dove with the envelope! The purple and white lilacs really put me over the top on this one.  Source

The Swedish pancake mix that was always on hand in our pantry:


Lunds and lingonberry jam can be found at specialty grocers or online here.

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Special for Me

In the tradition of my dinner-for-one posts, here is the special meal I made for me last night.

Sea Scallops with Cilantro Gremolata and Ginger Lime Beurre Blanc from Gourmet, February 2002

I cut the recipe down to three scallops (purchased at the fine Hapuku Fish Shop), took out my “good” china (Haviland) and served the scallops on a bed of frisee.


I had an unseasonal yet delicious bottle of mildly sparkling Spanish white with dinner (strong enough to hold up to the ginger and cilantro flavors).  It is called Vi D’Agulla:

…a charming and slightly frizzante wine from the Penedes region of Spain located just outside of Barcelona.  Its name means “wine with a prickle” and is intended as a summer thirst quencher.


Other notes: this recipe is super easy, and you can up the healthiness factor by going light on the beurre blanc, as I did.

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Morning Coffee

Use your nice things everyday.  


I looooove Raynaud’s Jardin Celeste.  Coffee in my Jardin Celeste made my morning that much nicer.

Don’t skimp on your coffee.  My favorite is the Ethopian organic/fair trade from Trader Joe’s.  SOooooo yummy, nutty, dark, etc.



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Sunday Leftovers

I. and I had our next door neighbors over for dinner last night. One of the dishes I made was a String Bean, Arugula, and Pasta Salad from Martha Stewart Living.  I ate some this morning for breakfast.  It was delicious:

It has baby arugula from my garden, yellow wax beans, haricots verts, lemon, and roasted pine nuts.  Here is a close-up:

Here is the full recipe from Martha Stewart Living August 2008: String Bean, Arugula, and Pasta Salad.


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Leafy Greens

Have you been eating enough leafy greens?  Can you ever eat enough?

I made a kale salad tonight, that I rendered from memory based on a kale salad of my mother and father’s making, which was in turn adapted from Diabetic Monthly.  I know, I know, Diabetic Monthly.  But SERIOUSLY.  You have to try this.  Anyone who has ever had a plate put in front of them at my family home knows we don’t mess around. 

What I did:


Early Girl Tomatoes (3 medium sized, diced), 1 Large Bunch Curly Kale, kalamata olives, shallot, sunflower seeds.

Dressing: Mustard, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil

In a large bowl mix a dollop (approx. teaspoon or larger) of mustard with a generous splash of soy sauce and one large minced clove of garlic.  Add a generous splash of rice vinegar.  Taste.  Adjust soy/rice vinegar ratio to taste.  Add about a tablespoon of sesame oil for flavor (it’s too thick to do for the entire oil portion of the dressing).  Add olive oil so that the oil to other ingredient ratio is approximately 1:1.

Then strip the kale from the hard center spines of the leaves.  Wash, dry, and chop roughly.  Put in the bowl with the dressing.  Chop tomatoes, add to bowl.  Dice about a third to a half a cup kalamata olives (depending on how salty or olive-y you like things).  Throw those in the bowl.  Dice one shallot, add to bowl.  Throw in a third to half a cup of sunflower seeds and toss.  

Let sit for about 10 minutes for the kale to absorb the flavors of the dressing and other ingredients (kale is like the opposite of any lettuce you would usually use for a salad, it will stay crisp and absorb flavor rather than wilt under dressing).

Those Early Girl tomatoes were AMAZINGLY sweet.  I mean really sweet.  Like let’s make a tomato crisp for dessert sweet.  Wow.


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Recipe of the day

I made these cookies last night.  They turned out beautifully.

The recipe is here.

The dessert plate is Jardin Celeste by Raynaud and the wine goblet is Pearl by William Yeoward.  

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Study Hall Dinner

I whipped up Roast Chicken Breasts With Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, And Paprika.  So yummy and easy.  I like to think of it as comfort food for the health-conscious.  I used Fage Greek yogurt for the sauce.  YUM.  

Now, it’s very important to listen to Andres Segovia for dinner music.  Go buy a disc.

I’ve been enjoying a great bottle of white to transition from the rose days of summer into the reds of fall: 

It’s like taking a sip of the Cote d’Azur in August.  It really balances out my reading: 

“Teaching to Change the World,” by Jennie Oakes and Mark Lipton.  Interesting position especially on classroom management systems, or rather, that we should abolish the idea of classroom management systems and the euphemism “consequence” for punishment.  I agree at least with the latter.  If you’re punishing kids, let them know, don’t try to soften the blow with calling it a consequence for pete’s sake.  


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Just Desserts

I collected mail and watered plants for my next door neighbors while they were in France visiting their home town of Drome.  They brought me these gorgeous chocolates:

They are “Le Guillet” from Drome in the Rhone Valley.  I just love the package.  Red twine–so chic.

The laquer domino tray is Oscar de la Renta Home from Gumps San Francisco.  Available online at Lunt Silversmiths.  

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I’m Collecting:

Vintage Silver napkin rings.

You all have probably already switched from paper to cloth, but now take it to the next level.  If you are a genteel diner there is no need to launder your napkin after every meal.  Instead of tossing it in the hamper, save it near the table in a beautiful napkin ring.  The fun of collecting these vintage ones is that each is unique.  At my house when I was growing up we each had certain napkin rings that were known to be ours, so that when we reconvened at the table we would know which napkin belonged to us.  I recently picked these up at a vintage store:

Here’s a detail on one of them, it says “Maurice 1904:”

It’s Saddleshoos’ special napkin ring.

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